What is a PIM system and why it's essential in ecommerce?
By definition, the PIM system is Product Information Management, i.e. a system for managing product information. What do we need it for? After all, we can manage pieces of information about products at the store. Theoretically, it is like that, however, nowadays information about the product is one of the most important sales’ factor in the store. Items without appropriate photos and descriptions have no chance of being sold or found in the world of search engines, as it is shown in the chart below.
Important elements of experience while shopping online
In fashion branch customers would like to try an item on before they decide whether it matches their expectations. In the brick and mortar shop it is simple, clients are able to see, touch or even try particular item before purchasing.
According to Navar.com report, 62 % of the returns in fashion is actually an exchange but not a real return.
Source: https://see.narvar.com/2019-09-GLO -WebContent-Consumer-Report-Returns_2 019-Report-The-State-of-Online-Returns-EN ---PDF-LP.html
The conclusions are obvious – the problem is product content. In this case, however, it is mainly about the parameters and physical features of items and not the general marketing description or photographs. The key to lower the rate of returns is therefore the appropriate prametrization of product descriptions. The customer needs to obtain the thing that one expects and there will be less returns in each branch.
Despite the quality of the product content, efficient and effective management of the entire product base is an extremely important factor here. Prestashop on its own has the tools to do it however there are situations, in which we need something more and it is not just about mass editing of products.
Multiple sales channels
Prestashop as a platform allows you to run several stores on one engine with the Multistore option enabled. However, it is not always possible to run several stores in the Multistore formula because, for example, it conflicts with the business context, they must be on different servers, they are managed by related organizations and many others. Sometimes, in addition to Prestashop, we use other types of software in the organization, such as other sales platforms, OMS, ERP, CRM, marketplace, external distributor systems or other sales systems for offline product distribution.
In such a situation, maintaining the consistency of product data across multiple sales channels is a real challenge. In addition, sometimes this data needs to be managed in such a way that one set of parameters is used in one system and another in the other, and additionally, different product descriptions are used, which is particularly important in terms of SEO. We also receive product data in various formats, e.g. CSV, XLS, which we also need to be able to import and merge with our current product catalog according to the rules adopted in our organization. Products in different systems can also be represented differently - in one system we want to have variant products and in the other simple products, because, for example, this system does not allow the use of variants. Similarly, in one system we want to publish more photos and additional materials with the product, such as PDF or video files, and not do it in the other one. All these problems are solved by using the PIM system in our organization. The PIM system additionally allows us to divide the product catalog between channels without burdening, for example, the eCommerce platform database with products that will not be used in it.
Many product templates
At present, PIM systems allow you to create product templates, thanks to which we can assign sets of parameters to product categories and create simulations of the appearance of product cards, which in the case of products of one category may look different and in the case of the other category. This allows you to design and test the arrangement of elements on the target product card in the online store, auction systems and other marketplace systems.
Many people managing the product base
As the eCommerce organization grows, there is a need to create a separate team in the organization to expand and update the product base. The work of several people on one product database can be problematic as they can work on the same products at the same time and get in each other's way. Sometimes there is a situation that one person should have broader permissions in the system to edit all product parameters, and the other person only to edit particular description. One of the employees can remove products from the system and the other cannot. One role in the system may allow particular person to add translations and another to add new products. In addition, on a more advanced level of authorization, people from the product team may have access to the PIM system, but not to the sales system or the store, which significantly affects the level of security in the organization.
Monitoring of the product team
Every E-commerce Manager struggles with the problem of monitoring their subordinates on a daily basis, and often these employees are in the product team. PIM systems allow for automated reporting and previewing what percentage of the product base is completed, how many products are suitable for publication, how many items are still being described, translated or supplemented with features. By adding tools like a Kanban board to this, we can easily see which products are on which stage and what the performance and progress of the team looks like. Such tools also facilitate the introduction of new people to the team, allow for better organization of work and make it easier to find bottlenecks in the process.
A natural issue in the context of the product catalog is the involvement of suppliers in its creation and updating. Modern PIM systems allow you to create an appropriate role for suppliers and increase their involvement in the process through direct access to the system. PIM systems also include an extensive API that allows not only to download product data from them, but also to insert them into PIM in an automated manner, e.g. from the supplier system. On the other hand, the PIM system may provide data to recipients of our product data, who may also be able to log in to it or download it to their system via API.
Automation of activities and artificial intelligence
In a multi-person team with different roles to manage and product data coming from different sources, tools to automate activities will be indispensable. In modern PIM systems, we can automatically control the flow of information, change the status of products - their completion and readiness in response to supplementing the minimum scope of required data, which we can additionally define ourselves. Automatic processes can also create, for example, product descriptions based on patterns using product features or, going further, even use AI artificial intelligence, which will generate its description based on product data.
PIM systems are rapidly growing technological areas that take over the entire management of product information, including additional files and photos. It is a kind of product knowledge repository that allows the organization to structure data better, manage it more easily, distribute it and keep it consistent across different target systems and sales channels. According to the architecture of microservices, product information is separated into an individual system that is independent of the store platform used. Isolation product management into an separate system takes organizations to a more advanced level, allowing them to use virtually any e-commerce platform, regardless of their technology or way of functioning. There are many ready-made integrations available on the market that allow one to connect Prestashop store with popular PIM systems. In times when product information is so crucial, the way of its organization and delivery in a conscious company should be refined and the system that organizes it should be as ergonomic, easy to use, flexible and built in accordance with the API First ideology as it is possible.
The whole process of implementing the PIM system and properly connecting it with the Prestashop store is not an easy action and requires a lot of attention and experience - it is better to entrust it to professionals in order to get the maximum benefits for our business.